PPC (pay per click) ad campaigns are a great way to generate leads for small to medium size businesses. Organized campaigns can help you reach the right audience at the right time – and that’s the million-dollar word – time. Many independent business owners want to take advantage of PPC, or they may already have something in the works, but can’t invest a ton of time into making sure it’s organized, relevant, and ultimately successful. Not to worry, there are a few things you can do to generate more leads and have a more effective campaign. And the best part? They require minimal effort.

1. Make Your Ad Impactful and Visible to Help Keep CPC Low

Ads are judged based on relevancy and usefulness, then given a quality score. The higher your quality score, the lower the cost per click. You can view this score by jumping into your PPC account and toggling over to the campaigns tab and then keywords to see where your business lands. Improve your quality score by targeting the right keywords for your business. Don’t pay and pray, instead, do a little keyword research and make an educated selection. Keep your ad copy simple, to the point and include a clear call to action. If you don’t already, consider enabling sitelink extensions to drive more clicks and traffic to the right places on your website.

Key Take-away: Better ad copy will allow you to spend less money to reach the right people.

2. Advertise at Optimal Times for Better Views and Engagement

If your business is involved with social media, you know there are optimal days and times to post on channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Similarly, there are specific times in the day or week when you’ll want to run advertisements. This is different for every business and device, but it can be quickly identified using data from your PPC account.

Utilize customizable reporting in your PPC campaign to segment data by device and hour of the day. That way, you can draw some quick conclusions about audience engagement that could change your whole PPC approach. Maybe you see that you’re getting more clicks on mobile devices during weekday lunch hours and more engagement from desktops over the weekend. Tailor your campaign so it’s advertising on the right device at the best time of day based on your unique data.

Key Take-away: Use the available data on customer engagement to inform when and on what device you run advertisements. Little changes can make a huge impact!

3. Create a Negative Keyword List to Limit Waste on Searches that Won’t Convert

Negative keywords lists don’t take long to create and can really affect the success of your PPC campaign. They help you filter unwanted traffic by preventing your ads from being used in the wrong search context.

For example: if your ad sells cakes and you’ve specified wedding cakes as a keyword, you can prevent your ad from being displayed in response to a search on wedding cake recipes by using recipes as a negative keyword. If your ad pops up when people are searching for cake recipes, they aren’t going to convert, because their search intent isn’t to find a bakery.

By incorporating negative keywords into your campaign, your ad will not be shown to an irrelevant target audience, your click-through-rate will be higher, and you’ll save money by only placing your ad within appropriate, conversion-worthy searches. Win-win!

Negative keywords can be added at a campaign-level and apply to all keywords and ad groups within your campaign; they can be added to specific ad groups to better target certain products or services, or you can create a negative keyword list. Shared lists can be applied to many campaigns at once and changes can be made easily yet affect campaigns across the board. Learn more about how to use negative keywords to your benefit here.

Key Take-away:  Negative keywords will save you from wasting effort and money on searches that will never convert.

4. Target Your Audience from the Start to Capture the Most Likely to Convert

Utilize easy-to-use audience targeting capabilities to zero-in on the exact audience you’re vying for. Why? Because you have to consider user intent. In other words, different groups of people look for different products, but use the same keyword. For example, a man and a woman searching for “comfortable underwear” online aren’t likely searching for the exact same pair. Inputting identical search queries doesn’t equate to identical user intent.

Advertising platforms like Bing, Facebook, and Google all offer demographic targeting for their campaigns, allowing you to target audience segments like “women ages 20-40” or “men ages 30-50 with an annual income exceeding $150,000.” As you are setting up target audiences, remember to move past instinct and use data to inform your segmentation. Feelings will only get you so far!

5. Import Your Google Ads Campaign to Bing

Bing has now reached 34 percent of the U.S. desktop search market and Bing Ads reach 63 million searchers that aren’t reached with Google AdWords. Those aren’t small potatoes and represent a good chunk of missed opportunity. Expand your content and PPC campaigns across platforms to reach an entirely new audience. Once you create a Bing account, the platform has an option that allows you to directly import your existing Google AdWords campaign into Bing Ads. It’s very easy to get your campaign up and running without having to reinvent the wheel.

After you make changes to your ad copy, time of day and device, and add negative keyword lists, set a reminder to check on the success of these changes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. By making little changes along the way and fine-tuning your campaign to work for your audience, investing time and effort to improve your PPC payback doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming.